I watched It! The Terror from Beyond Space because I understood it’s widely considered (look at that passive voice) a precursor to Alien. Any such connection is tenuous at best. I also thought Ray Harryhausen did the special effects.
No, no, he did not.
If It! were a production of a middle school theater department–I kept thinking of Kesey’s favorite Cuckoo’s Nest adaptation, with the machine off to the side, a moving feature–it might be impressive. It’d work as a play, multiple levels, all connected through the same central staircase. It’d need a rewrite, of course. Bixby’s script would be laughable if one could muster the enthusiasm.
There are there major problems with It!, not including the script (the plotting isn’t bad, just the dialogue).
First, the direction. I’m not sure I’ve seen a director less enthusiastic about a space adventure than Cahn. Budgetary limitations aside, there’s a lot he could have done, maybe angled some shots, but he doesn’t.
Second, the alien. The costume is atrocious (it looks like a green sweatsuit over a bunch of padding) and the mask is lame. Ray Corrigan, playing the monster, moves with the grace of a dump truck.
Finally, the acting. Of ten actors–we’re supposed to remember all their characters, following a painfully weak introduction to them–only Marshall Thompson gives a good performance. Kim Spalding, as his antagonist, gives one of the worst performances I’ve seen lately in a theatrical release.
It! is a painful waste of time.
Directed by Edward L. Cahn; written by Jerome Bixby; director of photography, Kenneth Peach; edited by Grant Whytock; music by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter; produced by Robert E. Kent; released by United Artists.
Starring Marshall Thompson (Carruthers), Shirley Patterson (Ann Anderson), Kim Spalding (Van Heusen), Ann Doran (Mary Royce), Dabbs Greer (Eric Royce), Paul Langton (Calder), Robert Bice (Purdue), Richard Benedict (Bob Finelli), Richard Hervey (Gino), Thom Carney (Kienholz) and Ray Corrigan (It).